Here’s the thing about momentum: it has to start somewhere. If the Minnesota Wild can get some momentum going tonight with a victory over the red hot Anaheim Ducks, the team’s outlook immediately starts improving. The Wild would move to within three points of eighth place Phoenix. The team still has a lot of home games left, plenty of matchups against other teams battling for the same spot. The Wild still has games in hand on a lot of teams as well, but the key is that the wins need to start coming soon, hopefully tonight.
The Wild needs to get in the win column after a third straight regulation loss on Saturday to Columbus. Devin Setoguchi opened the scoring with his second consecutive goal, but the Blue Jackets responded with three unanswered. Niklas Backstrom took the loss after stopping 16 of 18 shots.
The Ducks still take up the 13th position in the Western Conference, but they have picked up points in each of their last five games, including a 5-3 win over the Blue Jackets on Sunday. Corey Perry registered his fifth career hat trick while Jason Blake and Bobby Ryan also picked up goals. Jonas Hiller earned the win with 24 saves on the night.
Wild vs. Ducks will be broadcast nationally in high definition on NBC Sports Network with a start time at 6:30 PM. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.
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Flowers, chocolate and hockey are the three things that come to mind for a perfect romantic evening. If you’re one of the first 5,000 fans at tonight’s game, you can knock out two of those. The first 5,000 female fans through the gates tonight will get a free box of chocolates. As for the flowers, you’re on your own for those.
At some point this season, it seemed as if Perry, Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf might all be wearing different color jerseys. The Ducks were sinking and their prickly head coach was out the door.
In stepped Bruce Boudreau, and after a few more growing pains, the Ducks have soared. Since January 6, Anaheim has gone 12-2-3 with Ryan posting 13 points (8-5=13) and both Perry (11-3=14) and Getzlaf (2-12=14) with 14.
The Wild has needed Setoguchi to rediscover his offensive touch, and since Mikko Koivu returned to his line, he’s done just that. Setoguchi has three points (2-1=3) over the last two games, including two rocket wrist shots that found the back of the net.
Kids making their NHL debut with the Wild isn’t anything we’re not used to this season. Tonight, Kris Foucault will get in there as the 39th player to skate for Minnesota this season, and the 13th rookie used. Foucault, who was recalled along with Marco Scandella from Houston yesterday, has 10 goals and 13 assists in 47 games with the Aeros.
Scandella is still considered one of the Wild’s brightest future stars. He was playing so well at the start of this season, that it was easy to forget that the big defenseman is just 21. After some midseason struggles, Scandella was assigned to Houston to rediscover his game, and in nine contests, he put up two goals, three assists and a +4 rating.
Head Coach Mike Yeo has done some more line tinkering, this time putting Matt Cullen on the wing with Kyle Brodziak centering the second line:
"It’s in our hands. If you start to look at it as too big of a picture, you start looking at it as a whole, then it could seem a little daunting. The biggest thing for us is to just concentrate our focus on [the Ducks]. We need to win a game to feel good about ourselves here.”
-- Mike Yeo on his team needing a win to gain momentum for a playoff push
LW Jason Blake is a native of Moorhead and played his high school hockey with the Spuds.
This is far from a worthless stat. Tonight, the Wild will welcome its eight millionth fan through the gates.